I was so afraid that I wouldn't know what to say to her. I sent up a quick tefila before I even opened my mouth.
Put the right words into my mouth. I am doing this for Your sake.
"Hi," she said to me on the phone. She felt a little silly, I could tell, vulnerable and intimidated. Intimidated by whom?
"I don't really know where to start," she said.
"Just talk in any order. I'll jump in when you stop for breath," I said.
She laughed. And went on to tell me that her pregnant belly, with its stretch marks, is making her cry. It's all she can think about; it's hugeness, and how her skin is getting ruined. "I feel so stupid. I mean, I have everything. Really! Great family, great husband, no money worries. I know that I'm carrying perfectly; little belly, and the rest of me is still skinny. I'm pretty.I have everything. And then there's this, always, hanging over me. Why can't I stop thinking about it? Why can't I get past it? I try to imagine how incredibly happy I would be if I didn't care so much."
We spoke for over an hour. I told her stuff. I told her about happiness, how it is within, not without, about challenges, how if we didn't have internal struggles we might as well be dead. About accepting your feelings and not using the phrase "I shouldn't be feeling this way!" About aging and true beauty and lines on the skin which, if they went away, will always be replaced with something else to focus the obsession on.
I told her that it is hard, and we live in a material world and we are material girls (I told her that I made that up by myself; she was impressed) and it's always a fight.
And I sounded wise and knowing and I felt wise and knowing because I know from whence I speak. Because as different as we are and always were--my life was always very far from "perfect"--I remember being so lost and so sad and so confused. I remember thinking, but this is not how my life was supposed to be. I was not supposed to be spending it calculating my calories so that I would know how many stomach crunches to do tonight and tomorrow morning.
And how I remember the people who put out their hands to grasp my flailing one as I search blindly for dry land.
And then after she thanked me profusely and I told her to call back when she wants to, I sat down and thought to myself, this feels so nice.
And I thanked Hashem for all of the opportunities that I have in my life to pay it forward.